The energy density of many lithium metal oxide battery cathodes is limited by redox reactions associated with the transition metal alone. Anionic redox reactions are affording new opportunities to increase this energy density. Here, we present results from first-principles density functional theory (DFT) calculations aimed at understanding the combined cation/anion redox of Li-rich materials, and designing new materials that will enable high-capacity, reversible cycling with minimal oxygen evolution. We illustrate this approach on three Li-rich compounds: Li5FeO4, Li4Mn2O5, and Li2MnO3.
Li5FeO4: Initial removal of Li is accompanied by Fe migration to form a disordered rocksalt structure. A local Li6-O coordination of oxygen, identified by DFT calculations, raises the O 2p band and enables reversible O-/O2- redox behavior, previously unknown in this material. This insight leads to the prediction and subsequent experimental demonstration of anionic and cationic redox reactions with good reversibility and without any obvious O2 gas release.
Li4Mn2O5: We study the recently-reported, high-capacity, disordered rocksalt-type Li4Mn2O5 compound and also determine the ground state ordered structure of Li4Mn2O5 via a DFT-based enumeration method. DFT calculations show that the delithiation process occurs via a three-step reaction pathway involving the complex interplay of cation and anion redox reactions: i) Mn3+→ Mn4+ (LixMn2O5, 4 > x > 2), ii) O2− →O1− (2 > x > 1), and iii) Mn4+ →Mn5+ (1 > x > 0) concomitant with Mn migration from the original octahedral site to the adjacent tetrahedral site. Finally, we predict that alloying with M = V and Cr in Li4(Mn,M)2O5 would produce new stable compounds with substantially improved electrochemical properties.
Li2MO3: We catalog the family of Li2MO3 compounds as active cathodes or inactive stabilizing agents using high-throughput density functional theory (HT-DFT). With an exhaustive search based on design rules that include phase stability, cell potential, resistance to oxygen evolution, and metal migration, we predict a number of new Li2MIO3–Li2MIIO3 active/inactive electrode pairs, in which MI and MII are transition- or post-transition metal ions, that can be tested experimentally for high-energy-density lithium-ion batteries.